According to a study, there's a love habit that's crucial to the health of your union: focusing on each other's good qualities. Of course, that's easier said than done. It's normal to see more of your guy's flaws over time—the key is not letting them infringe on your affection. "If you can organize your thoughts around his strengths, you'll concentrate on him as a whole instead of on his imperfections," says study author John Holmes, PhD, professor of social psychology at the University of Waterloo. He found that couples who do this stay together longer.
We're not suggesting you try to love his annoying behavior. But, you can learn to flip your thinking so you look to the positive side. Here, three ways to master the girlfriend mind trick.
- Prove Yourself Wrong
When you're bugged by something small your guy has done, it may not be that action that's getting under your skin—something may be eating away at you on a deeper level. By figuring out what that is, you can shift your thinking so you're less agitated.
First, question why you're upset. Say, he takes hours to reply to your texts, and you already assume he doesn't care about you. "Find evidence that proves you wrong," suggests Los Angeles therapist Shannon Fox, PhD. Maybe he asked about an important meeting you had or wrote you the sweetest card. "Pointing out the contrary helps keep the annoyance in proportion," notes Fox.
- Temper The Trash Talk
"Women bond by comparing their relationships—and all the accompanying problems—among one another," says Fox. While chiming in with the "Oh, and then my guy did this..." chorus can be cathartic, constantly bashing him only puts you in a negative mindset for the next time you see him. But never bitching is unrealistic, so if you're going to complain, counter it with something great about him to keep it fair, says Fox. For example: "I hate when Mike gives one-word answers, but he does plan great dates, so it's a fair trade." This lets you connect with your pals, but puts him in a balanced, realistic light in your mind.
- ID The Upside
Whatever your dude does that makes you crazy, find the silver lining. He's sloppy? Think about how this can benefit you. "Look at his messiness as synonymous with being laidback and not controlling," says Alon Gratch, PhD, author of If Men Could Talk. So, he'll probably let you make decisions like how to decorate his apartment. Niiice.
Another example: He's not a talker. "Silent types tend to be calm and logical, which is good for you because he can help you sort out your problems in a reasonable way," notes Gratch. Just remember: In the end, you really do have a good catch.
Quick Move: Make a list of why he's great. Thinking of it when you're pissed will take your anger down a notch and reduce friction.